In July, our Executive Director, Lori Pyle, and founder Erica Rust visited The Raining Season. They were the first visitors to our center since COVID-19 lockdown protocols were implemented nearly eighteen months ago. This week, our Executive Director is sharing an update from their trip.
Hello TRS family,
I want to first thank you for your continued support and encouragement to the mission of The Raining Season. As you know, the founder, Erica Rust, and I recently traveled to Sierra Leone to visit The Covering, love on our staff and kids, and to assess what future travel will look like. This trip was 9 years to the month since I had last made my way to Sierra Leone. It was amazing to be back and truly felt like I was “home” again. The staff and kids were so happy for our return and to quote Sorie Kamara, our in-country director, “Their visit was really important not only to assess travel resumptions for our teams and guests, but also their presence reignited so much joy and energy for us as staff, and the kids as well. It had been well over 18 months since teams were last in the country.” The first thing noted was that our staff and kids miss you! They miss having teams coming on a regular basis, and they are as anxious for your return as many of you are. When we traveled, there were travel warnings from the State Department for Crime (level 3-reconsider travel) and for Covid-19 (level 4-do not travel). I am happy to report that the Covid travel warning has decreased to a level 1-(exercise normal precautions) since our return. The level 3 travel warning for crime remains in effect presently. It became clear on our trip that a level 3 travel warning is valid when considering taking an entire team. Our staff reported that they have seen an increase in crime in the city, and as long as the State Department is recommending that we reconsider travel, that is something we will have to do. I will continue to monitor this regularly as it is our hope and prayer to resume team travel in 2022. As much as they miss teams traveling, I can say that the kids are happy and healthy! On one of our clear days, during the rainy season, we had a party for them, and it was wonderful to watch them play outside, dance, and enjoy some snacks. The rainy season is challenging and forces the kids to be inside more than they like, so we were happy to have a beautiful day to watch them be kids.
The past 18 months have been difficult as our center has been on lockdown due to Covid. In Sierra Leone, the Covid cases continue to decrease, which has allowed us to ease up on a few of the restrictions. We will now allow maintenance workers to enter the gates to do some much needed work on the building. It is a huge task to keep the building looking sharp while caring for 96 children. Our staff shared with me that not having teams travel to assist them with things like interior painting has been challenging. Let’s all pray that our staff and kids continue to stay safe and healthy!
At the time that we were in Sierra Leone, we were just beginning to launch our building campaign, and while I had full confidence that God would provide the needed funds to pay our lease, it felt overwhelming. I looked around and noted everything that happens on a daily basis to make that building operate for our kids, and watching the routine activities such as the cooking, the laundry, church, school, and playtime made it obvious that this is way more than just a building. It is home. I am so thankful for each of you who donated, making it possible for us to continue to provide a roof over the heads of all of our beautiful children.
Erica and I have traveled to Sierra Leone together many times in the past, and to have the opportunity to see the things we dreamt of 12 years ago in full operation was an incredible experience. Traveling together provided an opportunity to brainstorm and dream once again about the future vision of TRS. How do we take this organization to the next level of operation? I am so proud of where we are and everything we have achieved, but what does God have in store for us next? We spent every day wondering how we can serve more children in Sierra Leone and desiring to have a larger impact on the country’s future generations. The task before us is daunting, but I believe that TRS is called to do even greater things. God created a stirring in our hearts on this trip, and I believe that when He does that, there will be new doors to walk through. Erica and I are preparing for our next trip to follow up on a couple of doors that God has opened. Please pray for us and this organization as we look to the future and ask God what He wants for us. And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. Philippians 1:6
Lori Pyle, Executive Director